Cairo, Egypt – From miles away, the lights of Sunday night’s Muslim Brotherhood rally could be seen beaming high above the downtown city skyline.
Thousands of supporters at Abdeen Square in central Cairo cheered, as Muslim leaders took to the stage to introduce Mohamed Morsi, considered one of the front-runners in Egypt’s presidential race. It was the final event for any of the 13 candidates before a ban on any campaigning went into effect on Monday, two days before polls open on Wednesday.
“God willing, Morsi will be president after the first round,” the crowd chanted.
Um Hassan, a 36-year-old from Cairo, told Al Jazeera she was there “in solidarity” with Morsi, the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party. She said Egypt had been “liberated” after last year’s uprising that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak.
“Before the revolution, I couldn’t open my mouth and say anything, now I can vote for the party that I want,” she said. “I feel liberated.”
Others seemed to support the Muslim Brotherhood more than Morsi himself, who was a relative latecomer – after the group’s main candidate was disqualified.
“They’re not individuals,” said 43-year-old Cairene Mohamed Said, referring to the Muslim Brotherhood’s members. “They’re an entire establishment.”
Yosri Abdel Wahab, from Minya in Upper Egypt, said he hadn’t been a long time supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, but liked Morsi because he was “honest”.
“The country needs someone religious and pious who treats Muslims and Christians fairly,” 50-year-old Abdel Wahab said.
Morsi finally took the stage, listing names of cities and towns across Egypt from which he said his party drew its support.
“We will take a serious step towards a better future, God willing,” he said.
Learn more about the 13 candidates vying to become Egypt’s next president here.